College Democrats will host Obama’s former Chief Strategist
by Andrew Millman
At one of their weekly meetings, the College Democrats executive board announced that they had selected David Axelrod as their speaker for the Spring semester. The former Obama advisor will speak at Keating Hall’s 3rd-floor auditorium on Monday, April 9th from 8 to 9pm, taking place after Spring Break and before finals start. The club had previously hosted Patti Solis Doyle, a former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, during the fall semester. Their counterparts, the College Republicans, have had an eventful year with several speakers, including Roger Stone, Al Sharpton and Marcus Molinaro. Fordham has had many high-profile political figures come to campus this academic year and Axelrod may be the most important of them all, having twice led a presidential campaign to victory for the first African-American president. The event is open to all Fordham students, not just club members.
Axelrod was the chief strategist for Barack Obama’s two successful presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012. In between those campaigns, he worked as a Senior Advisor to the President in the Obama White House. After the 2012 campaign, Axelrod ended his work with Obama and became the director of the non-partisan Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago, in his adopted hometown. He now hosts The Axe Files, a popular podcast in which he interviews notable newsmakers including Justin Trudeau, Chance the Rapper, John Lewis, Condoleezza Rice, Steve Kerr, among others. He is also currently a senior political commentator on cable news for CNN.
Axelrod was born and raised in Manhattan on the Lower East Side. He got his start in politics selling buttons for Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign. He attended the University of Chicago, majoring in political science. Axelrod wrote for the Hyde Park Herald and later the Chicago Tribune. He lost his father to suicide around the time of his college graduation and his daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy. Both events made him an advocate of healthcare reform and he has stated that he was overwhelmed with emotion when Obamacare was passed in 2010. He left the Tribune after eight years to become a political operative. He has consulted on over 150 political campaigns at the local, state and national levels. He had worked for Richard Daley, Deval Patrick, John Edwards, and Rahm Emmanuel before joining the 2008 Obama campaign. He had worked closely with Hillary Clinton on fundraising for epilepsy research but chose to work for Obama over Clinton and three other major candidates that had asked him to work for them.
The speech will be especially meaningful for club president Eleanor Werner, a senior who has wanted Axelrod to come to campus since her freshman year. “I am very excited about this event because I have been a fan of Axelrod since 2008. I have always been a big political junky, so the opportunity to get to meet and hear from one of the greatest campaigners of our time is so thrilling,” Werner said. It will be her last event as president of the Fordham College Democrats, a position she has held for the past year after serving as the club’s vice president previously. The event was made possible by club treasurer Cameron Deschalus, who worked with Werner to secure the necessary budget from student government for the event.
“I think David Axelrod coming to Fordham is a great opportunity to listen and learn from someone who played such an important role in the historic 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, Werner said. She believes that the opportunity to see such an influential person on campus should not be missed. According to Werner, “Fordham students should attend this event because they will learn a lot about politics, the 2016 election, and about Obama’s historic run for office. Also, it will be fun and entertaining event to hear him speak.” For Democrats and liberal students, Werner believes that “his speech can bring hope for the future of our party and out chances at regaining the senate or house in 2018 and the presidency in 2020.”
Werner would like to have as many people as possible come to hear David Axelrod speak in two months. “I’m really looking forward to this event and I would love if people joined us to welcome David Axelrod to campus!”